Employment: Childcare policy costs firms

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Only one in 10 workplaces provides practical help with childcare - despite evidence from the Daycare Trust yesterday that replacing an employee who does not return to work after maternity leave can cost pounds 10,000. This includes recruitment costs, staff retention rate and investment in training. Other benefits for employers include higher morale, lower absenteeism and stress rates.

British parents currently pay the highest childcare bills in Europe. A family with two children - one pre-school and one at school needing after school and holiday care - typically faces childcare bills of around pounds 6,000 per annum. More than a third of women who did not return to work after their baby's birth said it was because they could not afford childcare.

Collette Kelleher, director of the Daycare Trust, said: "There is a strong business case for investing in childcare ... Employers have an important role to play and significant benefits to gain by developing childcare."